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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up March 5-11, 2023



Auto Central March 12, 2023; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Auto Channel Executive Producer, with able assistance from senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, compile The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, condensed into easy to digest news Nuggets.

LEARN MORE: Complete versions of today's news nuggets, along with thousands of pages of relevant news and opinions, information stored in a million-page library published and indexed on The Auto Channel during the past 25 years. Complete information can be found by copying a headline and inserting it into any Site Search Box.

Here are Larry's picks among the past week's important, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy-to-understand automotive universe news nuggets.

Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week March 5-11, 2023.

* AutoPacific recently released its forecast of U.S. light vehicle sales, predicting 2023 will reach a year-end total of 14.8 million units sold. Up from a disappointing 13.8 million units sold in 2022, the 1-million-unit increase can be attributed to a few factors, including continued supply chain recovery, and electric vehicle (EV) growth.

* The average transaction price (ATPs) of a new vehicle in the United States declined in February 2023 to $48,763, a decrease of 1.4% ($705) from an upwardly revised January reading of $49,468. Transaction prices last month were up 5.3% ($2,466) from year-ago levels, according to data released by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company. Meanwhile, incentive spend rose to 3.0%, averaging $1,474, a level not seen since March 2022. The average price paid for a new non-luxury vehicle in February 2023 was $44,697 – a decline of $681 compared to January. The average luxury buyer paid $65,534 for a new vehicle, down $644 from January. The average price paid for a new EV decreased by $1,050 (down 1.8%) in February 2023 compared to January. The average new EV sold for $58,385, according to Kelley Blue Book estimates, which is still well above the industry average.

* US DoE factoid of the week: More than 99% of all light-duty vehicles produced in 2022 came with automatic transmissions. Sixty five percent of all light-duty vehicles produced in 1980 had automatic transmissions but more than 99% did in 2022. This is due to advances in automatic transmissions that provide greater efficiency by optimizing engine operation and reducing energy losses when transmitting power to the wheels. The first automatic transmissions were not as efficient as manual transmissions, but they became popular because they provided convenience and ease of operation. By the late 1970s, manufacturers began installing automatic transmissions with lockup, a development that improved efficiency by locking the torque converter to reduce frictional losses. Over time, automatic transmissions without lockup were displaced by the more efficient ones with lockup. In 2010, however, automatic dual clutch transmissions were introduced, eliminating the need for a torque converter/lockup and causing an increase in automatic transmissions without lockup. Meanwhile, the introduction of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in light-duty vehicles around 2003 allowed for even greater efficiency through expanded gear ratios, and CVTs have increased to about one quarter of all light-duty vehicles produced in 2022. With the advent of more efficient automatic transmissions, manual transmissions have all but disappeared from the U.S. market.

* Meanwhile: A story in the NY Times reports there is a rise in the sale of new vehicles with manual transmission. So far this year, manuals account for 1.7% of new vehicle sales, according to J.D. Power analytics, up from 1.2% in 2022. The young folk are liking three-pedal driving, just like they enjoy vinyl records and point-and-shoot cameras.

* Back in December the University of New South Wales in Sydney in their Sunswift 7 solar-powered electric car claimed a Guinness World Record by going 621 miles/1000km on a single charge in under 12 hours. The car, designed and built by students, posted a verified time of 11 hours 52.08 minutes for the distance at the Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) in Wensleydale, Victoria. That equates to an average speed of nearly 53mph/85kmh and secured the Sunswift Racing team the record for the ?Fastest EV over 1000km on a single charge’.

* Our frineds at The Detroit Bureau have a story of interest saying gasoline use in America is declining and it’s not just due to EVs. TDB points out that a number of factors are influecing this trend and say that it is expected to continue. The data is interesting. Read about it here: Gasoline Use is Declining and It’s Not Just Due to EVs - The Detroit Bureau

* Volkswagen's much anticipated ID. Buzz electric van made an appearance at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Amongst a special judged class of vintage VW Transporters, Volkswagen said that the North American version of the ID. Buzz, presently on sale in Europe, will be debuting in California in the summer of 2023.

* In recognition of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, Ford Motor Company is celebrating the significant role that women have played in the development of the modern automobile by launching a new video, “The Ford Explorer Men's Only Edition.” The tongue-in-cheek "Ford Explorer Men's Only Edition" video initially appears to be a traditional car advertisement showcasing a new Ford Explorer. Narrator Bryan Cranston then explains the “Ford Explorer Men’s Only Edition” is a completely reimagined vehicle without many of the essential features developed by women, including heaters, windshield wipers, turn signals, brake lights, and GPS. View it here: Ford Flips the Script with ?Men's Only Edition,’ Celebrating the Crucial Role Women Have Played in the Auto Industry | Ford Media Center

* According to vehicle owners seeking repairs, customers have experienced a dip in satisfaction overall for the first time in nearly three decades. Overall, the top rankings for best service went to Lexus in the premium category and Mitsubishi in the mass market category. Customer service satisfaction among owners of BEVs is 42 points lower than among owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. 2023 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study

* The average electric car sold in the US is fast approaching 300 miles between charges, according to a Bloomberg analysis of more than a decade of EV sales. Last year’s average range climbed to 291 miles, putting the US average above all other major car markets and a third higher than the global average. America’s distaste for small vehicles is so great that automakers don’t even attempt to import many of their popular low-range models, such as the Fiat 500e city car — Europe’s fourth best-selling EV — or China’s top-selling EV, the Hongguang Mini. The typical US battery range has quadrupled since 2011, when the only widely available EV was the Nissan Leaf with just 73 miles per charge. Today there are nearly 50 EV models on offer in the US, and the longest-range option is the Lucid Air Grand Touring with 19-inch wheels and an estimated range of 516 miles.

* Green Car Reports has a good report on the effects of subzero temperatures on an all-electric vehicle. In this particular case it's a Ford F-150 Lightning. In general the information can be applied to most all BEVs. Read it here:

* And then there's this. A British magazine study shows cold weather conditions can reduce an electric vehicle's battery range by as much as one-third. The study of 12 models shows shortfalls ranging from 16.4% to 32.8% between the makers' stated battery range and the researchers' findings.

* New global research commissioned by ABB Robotics and leading industry publication Automotive Manufacturing Solutions, revealed that more than half (59%) of respondents believe the shift to pure electric vehicle production is not achievable within current legislative timelines. The respondents surveyed highlighted challenges in adapting to a new battery supply chain, concerns over high levels of capital investment required, shortages of raw materials, suitable infrastructure and lack of grid capacity. Although 28% expressed the opinion that the deadlines were achievable, they also indicated there would be significant challenges, while 18% believed the present targets would never be met. Only 11% believed that all regional targets for EV adoption by 2030-2040 were realistic.

* No more being awakened by the trash collection truck. Santa Cruz, Calif., purchased a $600,000 virtual-silent electric garbage truck, with funding in part from Volkswagen Mitigation Trust, with an eight-hour charge, a dedicated charging station using a FreeWire Technologies charger, and 290 kWh battery capacity. The city expects to save $20,000 annually on diesel costs and is considering an electric fire truck as part of its climate-action targets.

* Mazda is recalling certain 2023 Mazda CX-50 vehicles. The accessory trailer wire harness may become loose or detached, causing insufficient clearance to underbody components. A detached trailer wire harness may become damaged due to contact with exhaust components or road debris while driving. Approximately 3,152 vehicles are affected in the US and Canada.

* Ford is recalling 18 electric F-150 Lightning pickups that the company has identified as potentially having a battery cell defect that caused a truck to catch fire last month. The small recall is for vehicles that were already delivered to customers and dealers. Production of the F-150 Lightning is set to resume Monday.

* On International Women’s Day, the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, announced Amelia Earhart’s 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton as the 33rd vehicle to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register, the only federally recognized program to document the historical and cultural significance of the automobile. Later this year, the Foundation will announce the 34th vehicle to be added to the Register.

* The 28th annual gathering at The Amelia saw 25,000 enthusiasts gather for featured auctions, driving events and a 2-day show on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The Best in Show Concours d’Elegance Trophy was awarded to a 1935 Voisin C25 Aerodyne displayed by Merle and Peter Mullin of Oxnard, California. The Best in Show Concours de Sport was awarded to a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM displayed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Amelia Concours d’Elegance showcased 260 historically significant vehicles in 32 classes.

* The 2023 IndyCar season opener street race in St Petersburg turned into a demolition derby. Of the 27 drivers in the field only 12 finished on the lead lap. Five drivers failed to complete even the first lap due to a crash. Ten drivers didn't finish. Michael Andretti fielded four cars and all crashed out.

* Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is expected to miss several weeks of competition after undergoing successful surgery for a fractured leg. Elliott injured his left leg in a snowboarding accident in Colorado and underwent a three-hour surgery. Hendrick Motorsports President Jeff Andrews said that Elliott is recovering well and that he is expected to be released from the hospital. Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry filled in for Elliott in the recent Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and is expected to continue to substitute for Elliott while he is recovering.

Stay safe. Be Well.